Three keys to standing out in the snack aisle

by Keith Nunes
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Snyder's-Lance's portfolio of snack brands includes Cape Cod and Snack Factory.

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carl Lee, president and chief executive officer of Snyder’s-Lance, said Nov. 4 what a lot of other people have been thinking — there are too many options in the supermarket snack aisle.

“We really think the consumers are truly overwhelmed by the snacking options that are available,” he said in a conference call to discuss his company’s third-quarter results. “ … the number of snacking options that are available to them is far greater than anything we’ve seen over the past few years. And so making sure that our brands pop on the shelf and really stand out with a compelling reason to be purchased is something more important than ever.”

Mr. Lee offered three keys he believes his company must commit to in order to succeed in today’s crowded snack aisle environment: innovation, better-for-you options and protecting the base business.

“Consumers are really expecting us to begin to provide some reshaping to traditional products and offer some new compelling reasons to buy,” he said. “It can be around flavors. It can be around packaging. It can be around additional benefits.”

Mr. Lee reminded the financial analysts that during the company’s first-quarter conference call Snyder’s-Lance had reached a point where 25% of its portfolio were classified as being better-for-you by Nielsen.

“Six months later we’ve already started to exceed that 25% and we’re well on our goal of getting to 33% of our overall portfolio as better-for-you,” he said. “That will take us some time but we’re making some very good progress of reaching further and further into building our brands in a way that really deliver (to) the consumer benefits people are looking for.”

Snyder’s-Lance is creating a better-for-you business unit within the company. The new entity will include such brands as Eat Smart, Late July and Snack Factory, according to the company. Snyder’s-Lance had a 19% stake in Late July, but upped that stake to 80%. The brand, with its line of tortilla chips, crackers and sandwich crackers, will be an organic, non-G.M.O. platform for the company going forward.

“So we’re creating a new division to cultivate and support sensible nutritional snacking,” Mr. Lee said. “This specialized team will be able to be very nimble and very focused around making sure that we stay very much up-to-date with consumer trends and consumers' demands for better-for-you snacking as going with the tradition of what they're looking for.”

Where Mr. Lee sees additional opportunities for the company is on the base business, which he also defined as the consumer’s “trusted favorites.”

“The key there, again, is all about purchasing frequency and making sure that our consumers are buying at the same rate that they were buying previously,” he said.

Snyder’s-Lance is in the process of updating its sandwich cracker and Cape Cod potato chip product lines in order to make them more relevant to consumers. Part of the effort includes new packaging and marketing efforts around the programs.

“ … Where I think most food companies are struggling today is what I call the base business,” Mr. Lee said. “And with base business, you need continuous renovation, as the word we’re using, and you’ve got to stay very relevant and it goes way beyond a short-term discount or promotion.

“You’ve got to really make sure you’re staying on top of everything the consumers are looking for when they make a packaging or a product decision. And we’ve been able to do that with some of our other brands, and we’re exactly doing the same thing with our Lance sandwich crackers and already beginning to see some early success there as we had the courage to put that through a bumpy road for the renovation process.”
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